I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers using GIFs in their posts. I’ve been considering using GIFs, but I wasn’t sure if there are any copyright considerations I should be concerned about. Do you happen to know if there are any?
Many GIFs use screencaps or clips from movies or TV shows. A big question is: do GIFs infringe on that movie/TV show’s copyright? This is a major grey area, primarily because a case like this hasn’t been taken to court (not that I found in my research), so there’s no legal precedent for it.
A lot of people think that technically creating a GIF from a movie or TV show does infringe on copyright. However, GIFs often indirectly promote the TV show or movie they’re taken from, so the copyright holders don’t care to sue. In the end, it’s showing off their work without ripping the entire thing.
Other people think that since the clips taken are so small, GIFs created from them would fall under “fair use”. It’s like how you’re allowed to quote from a book if it’s under about 500 words. That’s fair use. However, this is where my first point comes into play. There’s no way to confirm FOR SURE that they’re fair use, because a case like this hasn’t been taken to court and ruled to be considered “fair use”. That’s ultimately what we need in order to confidently say it is in fact fair use.
Could you get sued for creating or using a GIF?
Potentially. I’d say it’s highly, highly unlikely because a lawsuit would be a lot of effort for something so small and insignificant. And as I said before, using a GIF is basically a form of free advertising for that movie/show. But since you are taking clips that don’t belong to you it is TECHNICALLY possible that they could sue you.